• Scott Herring

Tips on Choosing Blog Topics That Get Readers

Way to go if you've started your blog. The hardest part is getting started. The second hardest part, though, is keeping it going. I've seen way too many blogs that got off to a fast start -- 2 posts a week -- and then after a couple of months died. I confess, I have a few blogs with spider webs right now. I got busy with something else, and at the end of 2018, bloggin' stopped. Yes, life gets in the way. So does writer's block. And that's why I want to share a few tips on choosing blog topics that get readers. Ideally, you should be ahead of schedule, with blogs waiting in a scheduled queue, so when life gets in the way, your blog won't die. That said, here are a few tips if you're looking for blog ideas.

1. Answer a Question

In your line of work, you undoubtedly answer questions for your clientele. One of the best sources of blog posts is your "FAQs", or frequently asked questions. My last post about how blog hosting works is a prime example. Since I started building websites in the 90s, that formula has been the same. Yet I still answer it all the time with folks looking to build a website. What's Godaddy? What's an ISP? It's low-lying fruit for getting inspiration. And guess what -- traffic. Yes, common questions are ideal for SEO. A second similar source of ideas is from inbound sales inquiries. If you sell a product or service, you probably answer the same questions over and over. Same as an FAQ, right?

2. Share an Opinion

Take a stand on something. Be controversial. Don't be an idiot, but try a contrarian viewpoint. If your industry 'experts' are all touting one thing, question it. Make a killer headline that challenges common thinking. Be a renegade!

3. Do Keyword Research

I talk about it all the time. Michael has his own way of seeking opportunities based on keyword research. What are people trying to find? If you write a useful article in your space, something that people have been looking for, you'll get traffic. I wrote a blog years ago about productivity that STILL gets tons of traffic on a few "evergreen" (it doesn't go out of date over time) articles. Productivity never goes out of style, and some of the ideas I shared were helpful. I had done keyword research at the time, posted useful information, and got traffic (earning page authority). That cemented those posts for quite some time. So if you look for ideas where people are searching, your approach can pay long-term dividends.

4. Address Current Events

The opposite of evergreen content is news-based ideas. The good news is that you can "newsjack", coat-tailing on a hot topic. 2020 was about COVID-19 (and 2021 will probably be about the apocalypse). You can newsjack many news topics, from the Kardashians to a court ruling to something newsworthy in your industry. You may see a short-term effect from it, which is good. Try to cross-link to other posts from your news post to engage the readers with other ideas.

5. Make a Prediction

Apocalypse in 2021 -- you read it here first. Seriously, as I write this post in late November 2020, it's a good time to be preparing prognostications for next year. "Best Blogging Tips for 2021" has a nice ring to it. "SEO Trends for 2021"... If you write ahead of the year, great. And next year, you could crow about what you got right, and laugh at what you got wrong. Feeling brave? Write about things you see coming over the next five years. If you can "see around corners", you'll earn a position as a thought leader.

6. Explain a Trend

We're bombarded by statistics each week. If you have time to do some analysis of the data, you add value. If you're an accountant, there's probably a financial or investing trend you can explain. If you're a mom, perhaps you can address some pattern you're seeing in your community. Turn data into information.

7. Look at Comments on Your Blog

As Michael demonstrates regularly, naysayers are doing you a favor. Not only can you address their comments -- engagement -- but you can drill down on the topic, citing the criticism. Pose questions that challenge your belief and respond.

8. Ask Your Audience

On occasion, you can survey your audience. Ask a small number of questions, something that won't take more than a couple of minutes, to get feedback and ideas. You can promote the survey on your site, via email or on social media. Use a tool like SurveyMonkey to get all the tracking & analytics. But...KEEP IT SIMPLE.

9. Look at Social Media and Your Community

Look at comments in your space -- on social media or on other blogs. Don't copy other posts, but look for questions and topics that need to be addressed. As the seasons change or industry trends take hold, people look for relevant information. Like looking for questions from your direct audience, you can look for them outside. For example, you may find Twitter questions in your space based on a hashtag. Quora may have a multitude of questions posed that you could write about.

Choosing Blog Topics That Get Readers

Whatever channels you use to develop blog topics, keep a list. Michael has a huge backlog of ideas for Smart Classroom Management, and he grooms it each week. I have a few ideas in a backlog for this blog (need more, though), so I need to eat my own dog food on this topic. I know where to go, though, and now so do you!

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